ICE probe results in federal racketeering charges against members of Gardena street gang in alleged murder of man outside his home
LOS ANGELES – Three members of a Gardena street gang that operates in several states under the control of the Mexican Mafia, have been charged in federal court with violent crime in aid of racketeering for allegedly participating in a shooting that resulted in the death of a 29-year-old man who was gunned down in front of his home.
One of the defendants, Jesus Francisco Hernandez, was taken into custody this morning by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Hernandez is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. This case is being investigated by HSI Los Angeles, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and the Gardena Police Department.
The three defendants are charged in a criminal complaint alleging they participated in the November 13 murder of the victim, who is identified in court papers as “E.C.” The charged defendants, all residents of Gardena, are:
- Jesus Hernandez, a.k.a. “Rowdy, 27;
- Antonio Yanez, a.k.a. “Tank,” 22, who is currently in state custody; and
- Justin Arteaga, a.k.a. “Hitta,” 20, who also is currently in state custody.
A fourth man who allegedly participated in the attack – G. Hernandez, who is Jesus Hernandez’s older brother and who is described in court papers as a longtime documented gang member – was shot during the November 13 incident and later died at a hospital.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, two men were seated in a parked car near their driveway when they were attacked by G. Hernandez, Yanez and Arteaga. The affidavit further alleges that during the attack all three assailants pulled out guns and began shooting at the victims in this case. A relative of one of the victims, who became aware of the attack after hearing gunshots, came out to the car and engaged with the assailants, returning fire and striking G. Hernandez.
Police and paramedics responded to the scene, but one of the victims and one of the assailants ultimately succumbed to their injuries.
Soon after the shooting, Gardena Police officers arrested J. Hernandez and Yanez in the backyard of a nearby residence. Responding officers also recovered four 9mm handguns, three of which were “ghost guns” with no serial numbers.
Arteaga was arrested on November 17 at Los Angeles International Airport as he was preparing to board a one-way flight to Guadalajara, Mexico. He was wearing the same hat he was seen wearing on security video taken the night of the shooting, according to the affidavit.
Yanez and Arteaga initially were charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which has dismissed those charges in light of the federal racketeering case. Jesus Hernandez was not charged after he was detained by local authorities.
The federal complaint alleges that the murder of E.C. was committed to further the power of the Gardena 13 street gang, which is described in the affidavit as a criminal enterprise that has documented membership in California, Nevada, Texas, Hawaii and Rosarito, Mexico. The Gardena Police Department believes the gang distributes narcotics, primarily methamphetamine, both locally and in Hawaii.
The violent crime in aid of racketeering offense alleged in the complaint carries a statutory maximum sentence of the death penalty or life in federal prison because victim E.C. was murdered.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s Violent and Organized Crime Section.